Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, are the basic meals for the day. But now it includes Snack time, brunch, and many more between meals because of changing work hours, job profiles & lifestyles. We are no longer bound to eating healthy and staying healthy— or fulfilling our cravings we indulge ourselves in processed food all the time. I know what you are visualizing right now!! Burgers, pizzas, pasta, noodles, beverages, chips, candies, etc.
Wondering what processed food is? Let’s have a wider look at processed food, their types & what is considered to be a boon or bane for our good health. Further, we will discuss how pre-probiotic sachet can be useful for staying tuned into a perfect healthy lifestyle.
What is processed food?
Raw or natural food items are modified through various food processing systems such as cooking, fermentation, thawing, drying, packaging, and so on, to make a food product sustainable, tasty, and alluring and as per the demand & choice of people. After being processed chemically, different ingredients are sometimes added to enhance the texture and flavour of food products. These products are known as processed food and almost every food we consume is processed in one way or another, some less & some more.
For consistent quality control, almost all food products are processed before reaching consumers. Hence, consumers are not able to check the adverse effects of processed food on their health. Consumers don’t know which products to avoid or to rely upon.
Moreover, varieties of products and manufacturers make it more difficult for consumers to differentiate between healthy, less healthy & harmful food items. We are here to provide you with a broader view for your convenience to make you understand the difference.
How do you identify processed foods?
The NOVA food categorization system categorizes foods based on the quantity and purpose of food processing. Hence, foods are classified into four categories based on their level of processing.
The first category includes raw or unprocessed. Occurring edible parts of plants and animals are included in unprocessed foods. For instance, vegetables, fruits, animal milk and eggs. These products do not go through any chemical processing. These are natural and ready to consume.
The second category is minimally processed foods that go through mild processing procedures primarily for preservation. The nutritional content of the food is largely unaffected. Its process includes the usage of cooking ingredients such as salt, sugars, oils, flour and butter
These are derived from both unprocessed and slightly processed foods, which have gone through various processing procedures such as pressing, grinding, refining, drying, milling, and so on.
Foods in the Third category are processed (canned vegetables and fish, bread, jam, and cheese). These foods may normally be eaten without much effort and are typically prepared from at least two or three components. Processed foods in this category are created by combining category 1 or category 2 food items with additional components including salt, sugar, and fats. Canning vegetables, meat, cheese, bread, and other ingredients are some examples of processed foods.
The last and Fourth category of foods are highly processed ones. Also, considered to be ultra-high processed food. Soft beverages, sweet or savoury packaged snacks like cookies and crackers, prefabricated freezer dinners, and fast food are some examples. High-processed foods are generally low in protein and fibre. It’s also heavy in salt, sugar, and fat, additional sweeteners, preservatives are also added. These foods have been through a lot of chemical processing to make them edible & likeable. Other examples include packaged infant milk, cereal, instant soups, noodles, packaged bread, packaged fruit juices, ice creams, yoghurt with added artificial sweeteners, chocolates, biscuits, cakes, protein bars, and others.
What does it do to our gut health?
In today’s hectic environment, where everyone has a busy schedule, some manufactured foods are lifesavers. Processed foods fortified with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help provide critical elements in a person’s regular diet. There are numerous examples of processed or fortified foods having good effects.
But, processed foods often contain additives, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients that can be harmful to your gut health. These ingredients can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in your gut and lead to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. This can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, food intolerances & autoimmune conditions.
Processed foods can also be high in sugar, which can feed the growth of harmful bacteria and contribute to the development of various health conditions leading to adverse effects on overall health. Still, sometimes with such a busy schedule and lack of time to have a proper meal we indulge ourselves in processed food. In that scenario, we can improve our gut by the intake of prebiotics & probiotics.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. Together, prebiotics and probiotics can help to maintain a healthy gut by supporting the growth of beneficial microorganisms and promoting the balance of the microbiome.
pre probiotic sachet provides both prebiotics & probiotics which can improve gut health and support the immune system, resulting in a positive impact on overall health.
In general, it is important to consume a varied and balanced diet that includes a variety of whole, minimally processed foods in order to support the health of your gut and overall well-being. It is also a good idea to limit your intake of processed foods and choose whole, nutrient-dense foods instead.
How can we distinguish between various processed foods?
There are certain ways you can identify processed foods:
Look at the ingredients list: Foods that contain a lot of ingredients that are unfamiliar or have hard-to-pronounce names are often processed.
Check the nutrition facts panel: Processed foods often have a lot of added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.
Consider the way the food is packaged: Foods that come in boxes, bags, or cans are often processed, although there are some exceptions.
Think about how the food is prepared: Foods that are cooked from scratch using whole ingredients are generally less processed than those that come pre-made or require minimal preparation.
Look for the words “enriched” or “fortified”: These terms often indicate that nutrients have been added to processed food.
Preservatives are frequently used in ultra-processed foods to keep their quality, taste, and colour.
Ultra-processed foods are often rich in salt, sugar, and fat, so look for products with a red traffic light on the food label.
Ultra-processed meals come in an appealing packaging.
Foods that are quick and easy to prepare, such as instant noodles or microwave popcorn, are most likely ultra-processed.
It’s worth noting that not all processed foods are unhealthy. Some, like canned tomatoes and frozen vegetables, can be convenient and nutritionally equivalent to their fresh counterparts. However, it’s generally a good idea to limit your intake of highly processed foods and focus on whole, minimally processed foods as part of a healthy diet.
If the above information appeals to you and you gained a new perspective on the correlation between processed foods & gut health, please share it with your near & dear ones. Feel free to share your way/methods of staying fit & keeping your gut healthy. Also, you can add your valuable comments or ask any queries regarding the same. We will be happy to receive the feedback.